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Re: [xmca] On Marxist and non-Marxist aspects of the cultural-historical psychology of L.S. Vygotsky by Nikolai Veresov

You are using XMCA just fine, Ulvi.

David-- As usual there is a lot to discuss in your comments. I want to pick
up on just one where you and I either disagree or talk past each other. I
would like exclude the latter possibility so we could hone in on what the
disgreement is and what its resolution might be.

You write:
For Vygotsky the sources of the crisis, like the neoformation itself, lies
within the child. (Whether Martin likes it or not, that is what he says!).

What constantly confuses me in such statements is what "within the child"
means (and this is probably related to the use of perezhivanie as a unit of
analysis for the study of ontogenetic development, to echo a prior message).

The biological development of the pre-frontal cortex is clearly one of the
systemic changes that is taking place in the years of roughly 5-10 that are
a part of an important crisis in development a la Vygotsky. And,
conventionally, we can say that these changes are happening "within" the
child. But they are happening in a culturally organized social situation of
development. That SSD
is, as I understand it, both outside the child AND inside the child (as
previously appropriated, interiorized, and transformed, features of the
social interactions of which the child has been a part). The confrontation
of these changing contributions to developmental change give rise to a
neoformation which is..... inside the child (?), inside the child but
manifested externally where they have an influence on, contribute to the

How do you, David, and, according to you interpretation, LSAV, manage to
keep so clearly in mind what is inside and outside the child?

Thank you for reminding me to check the polls. We will close tomorrow and
make the article with the most votes availalbe as soon as possible.


On Sun, Feb 22, 2009 at 4:47 AM, ulvi icil <ulvi.icil@gmail.com> wrote:

> Thank you David for your valuable remarks and apologizes from all but
> especially from  Nikolai Veresov also if I used xmca in a wrong way.
> Ulvi
> On 22/02/2009, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> > Dear Ulvi:
> >
> > Thanks for your long and very considered reply. I think that the
> > relationship between Vygotsky's psychology and larger philosophical
> issues
> > (including Marxism) is a topic that will not go away, whether you and I
> > continue it or not.
> >
> > Very often, I think, we make the mistake of choosing articles for
> > discussion that emphasize these philosophical issues; the reasoning is
> that
> > the more abstractly we approach the problems, the more the solutions will
> be
> > applicable to everybody. We are a VERY diverse group, which is another
> way
> > of saying we are a highly inclusive one!
> >
> > It seems to me, however, that the way to solve these questions is really
> > through PRAXIS, and through discussing articles where the larger
> > philosophical issues (e.g. Marxism) have immediate relevance for data and
> > for the conclusions we draw from data.
> >
> > So for example in Mariane Hedegaard's article (which I hope will soon be
> > chosen and made freely available for discussion) I think an absolutely
> > question is whether or not her formulation of "the crisis" is compatible
> > with Vygotsky's Is the "crisis" of Jens in kindergarten (where he refuses
> to
> > settle down and listen to a fairy story and will not accept that a
> picture
> > of a baby whale shows a "baby") a good example of a REVOLUTIONARY
> > restructuring of  the relationship between psychological functions and
> the
> > precocious (adventurist) SEIZURE of POWER by the child's psychological
> > neoformations? In what sense does Halime's failure to attend camp
> represent
> > the emergence of a new form of mental life (a neoformation)? .
> >
> > I certainly did NOT mean to imply that Vygotsky rejected Marxism. There
> is
> > no evidence that this is the case. All the evidence in mature Vygotsky
> > suggests that his methodology was getting more and more Marxist (e.g. his
> > emphasis on word meaning as a unit of analysis comparable to the
> commodity).
> >
> > Like you, I believe that Vygotsky refusal to call his psychology
> "Marxist"
> > was partly a matter of hygiene. Yes, Vygotsky felt some disdain for the
> > noisy "Marxists" who were clearly using the word to get ahead and
> discarding
> > the methodology.
> >
> > I think I understand this very well. In China, "Marxism" (which meant
> that
> > you supported a very gruesome set of 19th Century Marketist "reforms")
> was a
> > meal ticket. I never called myself a Marxist there. In Syria, a country
> very
> > close to your own, "Marxism" was a ticket to prison; the Marxists I met
> > there were of considerably better quality.
> >
> > I think that Vygotsky probably despised "Marxist" psychologists like
> > Zalkind, who tried to show how social circumstances were rather
> mechanically
> > mirrored in psychology, and in fact for any approach that saw the crises
> as
> > being EXTERNALLY determined. For Vygotsky the sources of the crisis, like
> > the neoformation itself, lies within the child. (Whether Martin likes it
> or
> > not, that is what he says!)
> >
> > To be a Marxist, as opposed to noisily calling yourself one, means to
> > understand that Marxism is a science, and a science simply cannot be
> applied
> > in a mechanical way to every realm of human understanding, the way a
> child
> > with a hammer sees every problem as a nail. Marxism is a very specific
> form
> > of historical understanding developed in response to a particular problem
> > set.
> >
> > I don't think these problems include sex and death, or spelling in
> > kindergarten and learning that the word "baby" is also applied to whales.
> In
> > fact, I think that Marxism applied to phylogenetic evolution, ontogenetic
> > growth and even to microgenesis in the classroom is Marxism misapplied.
> As
> > Vygotsky liked to say, it is a bullfrog puffed up until it is the size of
> a
> > cow, a theory that has compromised its explanatory power through a
> process
> > of intellectual inflation and disciplinary imperialism.
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Seoul National University of Education
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
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> > xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
> >
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